What Comes Next For ‘Timeless’ After That Season Finale?

Senior Television Writer
02.20.17 13 Comments

NBC

A review of the Timeless season finale, and where things stand if the show gets renewed, coming up just as soon as we watch season two of The A-Team in its entirety…

The Timeless creative team spent most of this abbreviated first season trying to find the right balance between the Rittenhouse conspiracy and the individual missions into the past. The former was the reason for the latter, as well as a more familiar component of modern TV serialized drama. But the standalone adventures, and the way that Lucy and Rufus and Wyatt reacted to them, tended to be the more entertaining part part of the series, and the one that required fewer creative gymnastics to keep going.

Rittenhouse unsurprisingly took on greater prominence the further we got into the season, but Kripke, Ryan, and company still found ways to mix that up with fun time travel plots, like last week’s catastrophic mission to meet Elliot Ness and Al Capone(*).

(*) Legends of Tomorrow already did a Capone episode earlier this season, and Fox’s upcoming time travel sitcom Making History has a Capone two-parter. Capone: hotter than ever in 2017!

As the finale to a season that wound up being a lot shorter (16 episodes as opposed to the standard 22) than the creators expected, “The Red Scare” barely had time to bring all the Rittenhouse stories to a head, let alone for the fun and excitement of a trip to the past. Wyatt got to call out Joe McCarthy as the cowardly bully that he was, and there were a few references to cars and fashion (but not to where Wyatt and Lucy scored their ’50s apparel), but nearly all of this was about Lucy finding a way to defeat Rittenhouse that didn’t involve Flynn blowing up her grandfather and lots of other people, and then to the aftermath when everyone returned to 2017. It was definitely the most rushed episode the show has done, particularly in the attempts to set up a new status quo for a potential second season. Some parts clicked emotionally, particularly Lucy’s grandfather accepting the truth of the story she’s telling him, and the burden that will fall on him as a result, while others (like Christopher’s escape from Jim Beaver and his goons, even with Mason’s help) came across as things that had to happen no matter how thin the execution.

Some of those clues for the new status quo had already been laid down in previous episode, like the matter of Lucy’s journal, which we still haven’t seen her have reason to give to Flynn. His comment here about how well she’ll age suggests it’ll happen a long time in her future — and, if everyone involved is lucky, a long time in the show’s future — and as she has to compete against a Rittenhouse that’s even bigger than her grandfather’s notes(*), it’s easy to imagine a circumstance where she might turn to Flynn for help. And Rittenhouse having control of the Mothership feels like a more durable premise than Lucy’s team racing against Flynn, whose goals were much more short-term.

(*) So, was Lucy’s mom part of Rittenhouse in the original timeline, or did the elimination of her marriage to Amy’s father make her more ripe for recruitment?

Still, if Timeless does come back — and it’s hard to guess in 2017 the rationale any network will use to renew almost any show, given where all the numbers are — I hope Kripke and Ryan can find a way to ease back on the mythology throttle a bit. I don’t know what other kinds of excuses would be necessary to justify trips into the past, but the parts of the season that are going to stay with me have very little to do with Rittenhouse, and everything to do with the emotional experience our three heroes went through, whether Lucy executing Jesse James (to the great disapproval of the Lone Ranger), Rufus bonding with the black Civil War veterans, or Wyatt recoiling with horror after killing the man he thought would father his wife’s murderer. The race to stop Flynn and/or Rittenhouse didn’t prevent those moments, but you could feel the show contorting itself a lot more than necessary at times to keep that larger arc going.

But I’d very much like to see the show return. The three leads were excellent, and even at its darkest it was fun in a way that the current TV drama landscape could frankly use a little more of. More Timeless, please.

What did everybody else think?

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